Billion-Dollar Baby: A Cautionary Tale

On the way back from Springfield... (Jenny Downing/Flickr)

She is somebody somebody sent.

In the best—or maybe it’s the worst—tradition of local politics. And she was pressured into voting for a multi-billion dollar hike in the state income tax in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. By her Democratic Party allies in Springfield.

Some of her friends and neighbors may be unhappy with the tax vote but she won’t be facing any political consequences or voter backlash. And here’s why: She stepped down as an Illinois State Representative at noon on Wednesday. After one week on the job. That’s right—one week. She was, in simple terms, the lamest lame duck in a feckless Springfield flock. A billion-dollar baby.

“She” is Kathy Moore, a Lincoln Park friend and former public school teacher who was put in that unenviable position by the stark reality of political hide-and-seek. Or, in this case, seek-and-hide. Her reliably Democratic 11th District, which includes Lincoln Park and Lakeview, elected a brand new state representative, Ann Williams, in November, to replace John Fritchey, a popular long-time rep who won election to a seat on the Cook County Board. Fritchey began his new job in December, so Williams could have been sworn in as a state rep a month ago to represent the district in the lame-duck session going on in Springfield this past week. That was her initial plan.

But there were questions about how she would vote if a tax plan was on the lame-duck agenda. Williams claims that local Democratic leaders, including Fritchey and Senate President John Cullerton, wanted her commitment to support the tax hike before arranging for her to be sworn in. They say she got cold feet and decided not to start early—choosing instead to wait until Wednesday, when the rest of the freshman legislative class was sworn in.

(That, parenthetically, will save the taxpayers a few bucks because Williams won’t qualify for a more generous legislative pension than the one awaiting the new class in Springfield, thanks to a modest pension reform bill that took effect on Jan. 1. But her decision will cost the 11th District politically because, instead of moving to the top of the seniority list of new legislators by starting in December, she will be near the bottom since she’s entering with all of the other newbies, and her last name begins with “W,” a letter near the end of the alphabet. Oh well.)

Meanwhile, back at the raunch—yes, I said raunch and not ranch—Williams’s decision not to be seated early meant the political bosses in the district—Fritchey, Cullerton and the other ward committeemen—had to find someone else to fill the seat for the one-week lame-duck session. So they recruited Kathy Moore, the wife of Tom Moore, a well-known Lincoln Park zoning lawyer—because Kathy had the time and the willingness to “serve.” And down I-55 she went. Admitting sheepishly at a party last week that “they tell me what (voting) button to push and I push it.” Democracy in action.

So when the tax bill passed, without a single vote to spare, our lawmaker-for-a-week was a major reason. She says she’s not happy about voting for a gargantuan tax increase but she doesn’t think that she, or the state, had any other choice. Even though, as of Sunday, she hadn’t seen a bill. Or a press release. Or a fact sheet. Or a list of cuts, accountability measures and streamlining to go along with the increase.

“I hope it works,” she said wistfully in a text message on Wednesday morning. Williams says, for the record, that she would’ve had a hard time supporting the tax bill in its present form.

In any event, Kathy Moore was back home in Chicago by Wednesday night after morphing into a regular resident following her week as a political pumpkin. Kind of like “Cinderella” in reverse. And she may not be the life of the cocktail parties in the neighborhood for awhile, at least among the well-healed wine-and-cheese folks who will have several-thousand fewer dollars in their pockets for each of the next four years.

As for Ann Williams, the newly elected House member, she assumed her duties as the new representative of the 11th district at noon on Wednesday. And my spies at her Springfield welcoming parties report there was no evidence of any dust, dirt or snow from the rock she’s been hiding under.

Don’t you just love the Illinois Way? And can’t you see why we love being civic watchdogs?

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28 Comments

Filed under Springfield

28 responses to “Billion-Dollar Baby: A Cautionary Tale

  1. John Fritchey

    “Williams claims that local Democratic leaders, including Fritchey and Senate President John Cullerton, wanted her commitment to support the tax hike before arranging for her to be sworn in. ”

    Andy, even though I have previously said this to you, let me be 100% clear. At NO time did I ever pressure, or even ask, Ann Williams to vote for an income tax hike. Period.

    To the contrary, I repeatedly told her that I was taking no position on the matter and that how she voted on a tax hike and whether or not she wanted to be appointed early was entirely up to her and was something to be figured out between herself and Democratic leadership. Any statement to the contrary is a patent lie. Furthermore, I told Ann that I thought it was a mistake not to be appointed early and that she would be doing both her constituents and herself a disservice by such a decision.

    That notwithstanding, for reasons known only to Ann Williams, she refused to be appointed early to the office for which she had campaigned for over a year. Her decision meant that there would have been no representation for the people of the 11th District at a time when matters ranging from abolition of the death penalty to approval of medical cannabis were set to be heard by the legislature. Her decision forced the appointment of an interim Representative for the two-week period leading up to her inauguration yesterday.

    Kathy Moore, a retired Chicago Public School teacher, was suggested as somebody who would be interested in the interim appointment. She was subsequently appointed to fill the vacancy by a unanimous vote of the Committeemen in the 11th District.

    I also had zero conversations with Kathy Moore about the income tax issue or vote. In fact, my only conversation with her while she was in Springfield was a 5 minute phone call to make sure that she was able to get access to any information that she may need for any of the matters that may be coming before the House for action.

    Being a legislator entails making both hard votes and easy votes but you get elected to represent your constituents’ interests. Rep. Williams’ decision to avoid having to address making those votes any sooner than she had to was a decision made solely by her and was one in which I had no, nor wanted, any influence.

    I hope that this clarifies this matter.

    • John,

      You are raising a lot of questions. Your answer doesn’t clarify as much as it clouds the issue.

      Patrick

      • John Fritchey

        Patrick, I think that my post was pretty unequivocal. Let me try it this way.

        1) I told Ann Williams that I thought that she should be appointed early and I expressly told her that my position was not predicated on how she would vote on any issue, including an income tax vote. I informed Ann that those discussions were a matter of discussion for her and Democratic leadership.

        2) Ann Williams informed me that she did not want to be appointed early.

        3) In order to make sure that the residents of the 11th District were represented during the remaining part of session, an interim appointment was made. I had no discussion with the interim appointee regarding her voting intentions either.

        I hope that this makes it even more clear for you.

      • Baby Doc

        You should ask Mr. Fritchey why he took so long to step down. Williams could have taken the seat in time to vote in November’s veto session–but the seat hadn’t been vacated. There are ways of demanding something without actually saying it.

      • It helps. I’ll try your office and I think you have my number.

    • Sam I am

      =So they recruited Kathy Moore, the wife of Tom Moore, a well-known Lincoln Park zoning lawyer—because Kathy had the time and the willingness to “serve.” =

      I am not sure that this beneficiary of a tax-free illinois pension and the corrupt zoning system in Chicago would actually need to be told what was in her best interest. Shame on Williams for punting. Why did she want the job?

      • Sam I am

        From Williams website, not a very promising start:

        My name is Ann Williams, and I am running to be your next State Representative in Springfield. I am running to change the culture of corruption and insider deals that pervades state government – and to fight for everyday people.

    • Baby Doc

      You always did know how to treat a lady.

    • My blog post leaves the impression that John Fritchey asked Ann Williams to support a tax increase. She told me the “expectation” that she would vote for the increase was communicated clearly, but she never mentioned anyone by name. Fritchey adamantly denies any role in communications of that nature, and Williams supports him on this, so if I left a different impression, my bad.

      Andy

      • Baby Doc

        Nope. Not your bad. Actually, it was your good: Mister Fritchey knows exactly what went down here and is parsing his words carefully to establish a version of the truth most favorable to his ambitions. Your “bad” is that you hang the noose around a newly elected state representative who, of all the players in this scenario, had the least bargaining power. (Pardon me for mixing my metaphors.)

      • Yellow Dog Democrat

        “Left a different impression” Andy?

        You wrote:

        “Williams claims that local Democratic leaders, including Fritchey and Senate President John Cullerton, wanted her commitment to support the tax hike before arranging for her to be sworn in.”

        You didn’t just leave an impression. You stated something that is patently untrue. According to your own admission, Williams never told you that she was pressured by Fritchey.

  2. AnyBodyButRahm

    You should post an article EVERY DAY – the modern day version of screaming from the rooftops – about the shenanigans of Cullerton & Madigan. They are appalling figures who do not get adequately exposed for their daily shenanigans and chronic malfeasance. Who shepherds through every spending bill? Who has been at the top during the entire tenure of this state’s demise? Who has gotten filthy rich at the same time they watched the state crumble? Who? Madigan & Culllerton and yet, unless you are in the media, politics or live in their district, most in Illinois aren’t even aware of the unabashed power and thuggery of this disgusting duo. Their power is so vast, the media and other pols run in fear, afraid to call it as it really is.

  3. Pingback: Chicago Daily Observer » Blog Archive » Tax Hike Hinged on Legislator with 1 Week Experience

  4. buffalo bill

    Where are the federalies? If votes were traded for jobs or favorable re-maps, thats bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery.

  5. Steve Dorfman

    I am shocked that the 2 legislative leaders would do whatever was legal and moral to get the state’s finances in order by appointing Moore.

    How very foolish of them to try to do what they deemed best for Illinois.

    If you want to criticize past failures of leadership, I’d be right there saying amen.

    But Andy Shaw’s criticism of the 2011 effort by the 2 legislative leaders to get the tax hike passed is just so much drivel.

    • Sam I am

      Why do you assume they try to do what they think in the best interest of Illinois? Do you have any actual evidence of that ? My guess is that most people including those who held there noses and voted for these guys assume they mostly act in their own self interest and that of their cronies in the political establishment.

  6. Juli

    If Ann Williams were the only person put in for a brief spell I would be more upset. Andy, look around there were a couple more (interim) st reps. The Beverly area and another that I can’t remember.

  7. Roland G. Ley

    This is why we need something just like below in ILLinois.

    Congressional Reform Act of 2011  

    The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971…before computers, before e-mail, before cell phones, etc.

    Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land…all because of public pressure.

    I’m asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.

    In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one idea that really should be passed around.

    Congressional Reform Act of 2011

    1. Term Limits.

    12 years only, one of the possible options below..

    A. Two Six-year Senate terms
    B. Six Two-year House terms
    C. One Six-year Senate term and three Two-Year House terms

    2. No Tenure / No Pension.

    A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office. 

    3. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.

    All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people.

    4. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

    5. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

    6. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

    7. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

    8. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/11. 

    The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves.

    Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

  8. Shameless and Lame

    Finally, an article addressing something that came to my attention last week as the assembly was cooking up this crock. Fritchey and Willams should both be ashamed. They were elected to carry out the people’s will and yet neither could be bothered to take accountability for this. Truly spineless. Hey John, the very least you could have done is voiced a public position one way or another when you found out that Williams was going “Jello”. After all it was the end of your term that this was being crammed into. The single most important piece of legislation this year and our “representative” (pick one) couldn’t be bothered to conduct a single public meeting, read the legislation, or voice an opinion before voting. Thanks for the kick in the crotch.

  9. Pingback: CPSIA – Let’s Take a Break and Think About Illinois Taxes :

  10. twk

    I don’t like a tax hike. That being said, let’s be realistic. I am not aware of any report or recommendation that identifies 15 billion dollars in efficiencies and cuts the state could make to balance the budget. Furthermore, I don’t like the idea of our roads going unplowed (like the ones in Denver I recently experienced) or our poor going hungry or kids without healthcare or early school programs. We live in a great state. And I am wiling to pay more to make sure we don’t sentence our state to the fate of bankruptcy.

    • Dos Sloan

      Welcome to Greece. Illinois is the Hellenic Republic of the USA. It’s debt trades at the the highest rates in all 50 states & territories-worse than CA, & MI. Why??? Because of idiot politicians like Madigan & Quinn who, under the cover of darkness, in the dead of night, broke into taxpayers wallets like the thieves that they are. The people of Who-ville woke up to the largest income tax increase in IL’s history and these scumbags rammed it thru WITHOUT CUTTING ANYTHING FROM THE BLOATED, CORPULENT, MORBIDLY OBESE IL BUDGET. NOT A DOLLAR. Even CA’s Jerry Brown, a democrat, proposed a package of tax increases & 12.5 Billion in spending cuts! A democrat for Gods sake.
      The people of Illinois should be sharpening pitchforks & heating vats of tar for these scumbags!
      And what to they announce today? They want to issue 8.7 billion in additional debt! They are insane! This state will default!
      Quinn & the General Assembly should be dipped in hot oil!
      Check out the story abt Maria Pappas & her driver, maid, & car on our dime.

      THIS STATE IS SCREWED & WE LET THEM DO IT! RISE UP PEOPLE!!!!!
      .

  11. Pingback: American Thinker Blog: Queen for a week; Just long enough to sink Illinois | Tommyoreilly's Blog

  12. John Fritchey could have stayed-on, and voted against the tax increase, but didn’t.

    Ann Williams could have taken the appointment, and voted against the tax increase, but didn’t.

    Kathy Moore could have voted against the tax increase, but didn’t.

    Mike Madigan, John Cullerton, Pat Quinn, John Fritchey, Ann Williams, and/or Kathy Moore could have stood-up to AFSCME, but didn’t.

    The voters in the 11th State House District could have voted for someone outside The Machine, but didn’t. :0)

    I tried to warn you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YZAjSH5dcY.

    Scott Tucker

  13. Betty

    The politicians in Illinois should be stoned! These people will be left holding their crotches doing the mj dance and asking “what”?
    I’m moving!! These people are our neighbors…..they would lie when the truth would serve them better!

  14. Ross Perot warned us back in 1994 about a “giant sucking sound” of jobs going to Mexico if NAFTA was passed. I think the hard working citizens of Illinois may hear that sound again much to the delight of Wisconsin and Indiana.

  15. Pingback: Short-Term Appointment is Deciding Vote on Taxes, Death Penalty | Watchdog Wall

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